Obituary: Supporter of Holocaust studies chair at UCLA

From the LA Times: Samuel Goetz was 14 when the Nazis rounded up Jews in his hometown of Tarnow, Poland, and killed thousands of them — his parents included — in the gas chambers at Belzec in southeast Poland…

An early advocate of Holocaust education in the United States, Goetz became a prime force behind the creation of a Holocaust studies chair at UCLA, the first at a public university in the United States. An optometrist for 50 years, Goetz, 85, died of pancreatic cancer Oct. 24 at his Los Angeles home, said his wife, Gertrude…

During the ’70s, the Holocaust denial movement gained momentum, with books and other materials contesting the Nazis’ murder of 6 million Jews during the war. Some of the material was written by academics at respected universities. “When these Holocaust deniers began to surface, with all their talk about the ‘lies of the 6 million’ … I couldn’t keep quiet,” Goetz recalled in a 2005 interview with The Times. “I said education is the only way we can leave our legacy.” Goetz was active in the 1939 Club, which takes its name from the year Hitler’s army invaded Poland and is one of the largest Holocaust survivors groups in the world. Goetz, who had served as the club’s president in the mid-1960s, proposed that it raise funds to help UCLA establish a chair on Holocaust studies. The chair was created in 1979 and helped turn the university into a center for Jewish studies. “Sam was the central person in the 1939 Club who [recognized] that teaching that history could be a kind of response to the widening revisionism that was spreading in Southern California,” said Saul Friedlander, an Israeli Holocaust scholar who was named to the chair in 1987…

Full obituary at www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-sam-goetz-20131110,0,7006498.story

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